How did Skittles end up on several “Best Super Bowl Ads” lists in 2017, without even having an ad in the Super Bowl at all? Rankin Caroll, former Global President for Fruity Confections, wanted to do something different, and it paid off in a big way. 1.5 billion earned media impressions big, earning him the 2018 Brand Genius Award for the CPG/Food category. Now, heading up the Chocolate division of Mars Wrigley, Rankin shares what he's been up to and offers sound advice for taking creative risks.
What have you been up to since receiving your award?
It's been a memorable year for Mars Wrigley. Last year, I was nominated for the 'Exclusive the Rainbow' Super Bowl campaign, which was an ad experience we shared with one person. The Skittles team once again aimed to "disrupt the predictable" in 2019 around Super Bowl. We skipped running an ad again this year and instead, created the first-ever commercial performed as a live Broadway musical, not surprisingly titled “Broadway the Rainbow”, which generated even greater buzz, media chatter and impression creation than the year prior. And, we sweetened the experience by donating 100% of ticket sales to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
In January, I took on a new role as global vice president of Mars Wrigley’s chocolate business unit. I'm now leading a global team that's responsible for growing our iconic chocolate brands, like M&M’S, SNICKERS, TWIX and DOVE/GALAXY. The talented Jane Hwang has been appointed vice president of our fruity confections business unit; she was previously Skittles' global brand director.
What was most eye-opening or memorable for you in creating the campaign that earned you the Brand Genius award?
I'll always remember the courage of our teams and how taking a risk really paid off for the brand. Because, it really takes a team of brave, innovative thinkers who trust each other, as well as their own creative instincts, to pull off a campaign like 'Exclusive The Rainbow.' The campaign was built on trust, data, creativity and staying true to Skittles.Telling the story of 'Exclusive the Rainbow' with David Schwimmer and Ari Weiss at Cannes was also a highlight. We had a lot of fun!
What are today’s key challenges and opportunities in working with agency & media partners?
At Mars Wrigley, we're fortunate to have valuable partners who know our brands inside and out. With that said, I encourage our partners to continually push us to try, test and learn. It's a fascinating time because we have a wealth of insights and data at our fingertips. Our agency partners are pushing us to use this data to responsibly and more effectively reach people in ways that add greater value to their consumer experience.
Any notable life experiences that have helped you get to where you are today?
"Trust your instincts (that’s why you’re here!), but never lose the hunger to learn."
Too many to mention, to be honest, but there's a common theme. Whether an experience is a success or failure, I always ask myself: "How does this make my team smarter or stronger next time?" Be curious yourself, and demand it from your team. Trust your instincts (that’s why you’re here!), but never lose the hunger to learn.
Looking back at your career, is there anything you would have done differently?
No, not really anything major I’d have done differently, except maybe to have started more actively networking and mentoring, inside and outside my organisation earlier than I did. Beyond whatever support I might be able to offer in those relationships, I get really energised by meeting new people and hearing and learning from their stories.
What one piece of career advice would you offer brand marketers today?
Building brands has never been more important, and there is now a much wider variety of means to do it. So, commit to learning and mastering those means, and build your bravery mindset and muscle.
If money or talent were no object, what would you be doing?
Show-runner for HBO or Netflix!
If you were a superhero, what would be your special power and why?
To live a wonderful, healthy, happy and productive life on 3 hours of sleep!
What is your favorite book?
Educated by Tara Westover. It's an incredibly moving story that reminds us of how lucky many of us truly are and the power of learning to transform any life.